WHY WE DEMAND A STATEMENT FROM THE REDEEMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF GOD
15 minutes before I switched on my laptop to type this article, I had no idea I might have to do this, but when the subject matter is rape and murder, and sentiments becloud good reasoning, it becomes imperative for logic to be coherently presented.
To be fair, I (and no one else) blames the RCCG for the rape and murder of Uwa Omozuwa, although it happened in one of its branches. Putting blame on the church would be absurd.
Any body who puts blame on the church clearly has an axe to grind. I have none. All I want is a statement on two pages of A4, circulated widely across all social media handles and possibly to the press.
Is that too much to ask? Its your name and reputation that’s at stake, not mine. I don’t even attend your church (or any church, but that’s gist for another day), but do you like being dragged for something one small tweet can resolve?
Now for the reasons why RCCG should break their oath of silence. I will be presenting my arguments on their own, and also as responses to some of the statements by those who don’t see why the church should speak.
1. THE CRIME WAS COMMITTED IN THE CHURCH PREMISES
If I travelled out of the country and locked up my house, but someone else gained entry and committed a crime in my house, would I or would I not be called as a witness in the ensuing court case?
The answer as you would agree, is Yes. I didn’t commit the crime in question, but the fact that it happened in a building that is within my control makes my testimony useful to the case.
If a bank robbery happened, the branch manager would be called as a witness. He didn’t commit the crime, but no one knows the bank better than him. If the crime was committed in a hotel, the hotel manager would be called.
So why should the standards be different when religious organizations are involved?
Oh, if that’s the case, then why are we not asking the branch pastor to say something? Why must it be the Pastor Adeboye/RCCG?
You’re right though, but the problem is, we don’t know him, but we know the church that appointed him the head of that church. Besides, anyone familiar with RCCG structure will tell you that headquarters maintains a tight control over branches, compared to other large churches.
So, when we say RCCG should issue a statement, he get why.
2. ITS REEKS OF INSENSITIVITY
This news broke out on a Sunday, the 31st of May 2020. So granted, all media channels of the church were focused on broadcasting the message of Pastor Adeboye. As someone with some background in social media management, I understand how that can work.
You’re busy trying to curate images and text to share with the whole world what the Man of God is saying. Maybe you noticed several people tagging the church in a matter about a rape incident that happened in one of your branches.
This is an extraordinary event so you can’t just tweet something about it. You need clearance from the top or at least an official statement. This is 9:30 pm at the time of typing this, and you are definitely not going to tell me, the highest ranks of the RCCG Pastorate are not fully aware.
We don’t expect you to rush out a statement, but at least acknowledge what happened in the interim, before you come out with a full statement.
3. BECAUSE THERE’S PRECEDENT, DUH
Do you still remember the #SexForGrades documentary that was released last year? Of course, you do, except you’ve been living under a rock. And if you have, shame on you.
As punishment, go to Google and get yourself up to speed. Well, one of the culprits in that video was a lecturer in UNILAG who also happened to be a Pastor in the Foursquare Gospel Church (FGC).
This was a purely academic issue, so why bring FGC into it?
Within 24 hours of the news breaking out, the church released a statement that amongst other things, suspended the pastor/lecturer in question.
Did anybody like me have to type an article to get them to do that? No.
Did anybody expect them to do that? No.
All eyes were on the university in question, UNILAG, ASUU, and the government. No one really paid attention to the FGC.
But they shocked us and suspended him, thus eliminating the possibility of insinuations that they condone sex-based exploitation.
Now we have a church – the RCCG – the crime (in case you don’t know rape is a crime, because millennials have this funny habit of treating rape like it’s a civil offence) was committed under your nose literally, and you haven’t even deemed it fit to say anything.
How hard is it to say:
‘It has come to our notice that Uwa Omozuwa, student at the University of Benin was raped and severely injured, leading to her death, at our branch, located at 10, Ikpoba Hill, Benin. We condemn it and will support the authorities in bringing the culprits to justice. We send our condolences to the family of the deceased and pray that God grants them the fortitude to bear the loss’
That’s 5 fucking lines on Microsoft Word. That’s 2 tweets. That’s one graphic design in Instagram. If mere symbolic actions like these are so difficult to carry out, what does that say about the ethos of your organization?
Is this the organization many of you are willing to die for?
4. SHE WAS PROBABLY A MEMBER OF YOUR CHURCH
I hate that I have to use this argument, but it is what it is. Religious bodies tend to be tribal and protective of their members, so this is me speaking to them in their language.
Uwa Omozuwa did not just pick up her books and go to any random church down the street to read her books. I know because I’m a student and I know how this thing works. I finished from OAU and I know that typically, pastors allow students who attend their church to come there to read.
It’s a very quiet place, and since it’s the church, God will probably answer your prayers for retentive memory faster.
Uwa chose that to read in that church because it was her church. Reports from the Police state that she was left in the church by the person who gave her the key.
No right-thinking person would have given a stranger the keys to the church. The keys to the church were given to Uwa because she was a member of the church. If you disagree, please provide contradictory evidence, not hypothetical statements (maybe she begged them for the key).
A member of your church was raped and hit on the head with a fire extinguisher, leading to her death. This incident didn’t happen at her parents’ home. It didn’t happen in school. It didn’t happen in a dark street. It happened in a branch of your church.
But she’s not worth a statement. Who is she anyway? She’s just one of the millions who pay tithes and the offerings you used to set up Redeemers University. She’s not a student of Redeemers University that pays millions, so why waste a statement on her?
How much her entire family dey pay as tithes and offerings per week? He reach N500?
I understand, but all I’m asking, is that you pretend that she has some value. Pretend she was of some value to your church. Pretend that you were interested in her life that was cut short. Just acknowledge her death, I take God beg you.
And so, is she the only member of RCCG that is dead? Does the church have to acknowledge each death?
No, but in as much as the incidence and cause of death are connected to you, you owe it to your reputation to acknowledge and clear the air as soon as possible.
This leads to the next argument.
5. ITS GOOD FOR YOUR REPUTATION
Imagine if the church had come out with an initial statement like the one, I drafted above. For one thing, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now. Instead, we would be commending the RCCG for their swift response.
We would be leveraging on the statement of a church as powerful as RCCG to compel the authorities to act on it. RCCG is the biggest Pentecostal church in Nigeria. A church this powerful can bring down and push a government into power.
Unfortunately, Nigerian clerics are not cut from the same cloth as Martin Luther King. The extent of their activism is to curse bad people from the safety of the pulpit, while collecting tithes from the proceeds of sinful activity.
But its not too late. There’s still time. If by tomorrow, the 1st of June, a statement is issued, you can prove me wrong. You can prove that I jumped to a conclusion too fast. I want you to prove me wrong.
I want the RCCG to prove all those condemning their silence wrong. I want the statement you release to be so good, that it makes writing this article a waste of time.
Because at the end of the day, its not about me, or those asking for a statement.
It’s about Uwa
After publishing this article, I came across a statement from the church which I have attached below. Thank you RCCG